Director Juan Carlos Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's first feature film in roughly five years (his last being 28 Weeks Later, 2012's Intruders is a slick and incredibly atmospheric horror film that is set in Spain and which follows the story of a boy named Juan (Izan Corchero). He lives at home with his mother, Luisa (Pilar Lopez de Ayala), where he works on a horror story of his own which seems to be based on the fact that he and his mother are haunted by a creature they know only as Hollowface who has no face of his own and who is out to steal someone else's. Luisa is obviously very concerned for her kid and does what she can to help him, while miles away in England a young girl named Mia (Ella Purnell) passes off a ghost story she's come across as her own work and impresses her classmates and her teacher. Of course, the story she tells is the one which Juan wrote, and before you know it both she and her father, John (Clive Owen), are being tormented by an ominous creature in search of a face... but is the haunting real or the result of something else? Mia's mother, Susana (Carice van Houten), aims to find out.
An interesting film that very effectively plays up on our inherent childhood fear of the unknown and what may or may not be lurking under our beds at night, Intruders does a great job of melding the two separate (albeit similar) stories simultaneously taking place in two different countries into one satisfyingly cohesive whole. We've seen similar stories to this one told plenty of times before in horror movies, but this time around we get as much time spent on the why as on the how. There's a very clever back story that's played out very well here and it winds up making a movie that could have been just another (though admittedly very nicely made) tale of 'things that go bump in the night' into something entirely more filling. On top of that, we can an interesting contrast between the 'old world' ways of fighting monsters (religion) versus the 'new world' method of dealing with issues that some would hope to otherwise explain away (psychiatry).
As far as the performances go, all involved are quite good here. Corchero and Ayala perform in their native Spanish language and do just fine with the material, Corchero in particular standing out as a talented young actor who is completely believable in his part. On the English side of the spectrum things also shape up well. Owen is his typically reliable self here while van Houten makes for an interesting anchor to his character. Ella Purnell is also very good here, playing things very nicely and never really seeming out of character at all as young actors are often times apt to do.
On a visual level, the movie is also quite impressive. Light and dark collide here with interesting results and while the movie is based almost entirely on a palette made up of Earth tones (grey, brown, dark green) it's not inappropriate and instead suits the sometimes somber mood of the film. if there are instances where the story gets a little obtuse or where the pace starts to slow just slightly, we can forgive the film for those few flaws (particularly as the story works well on a few layers and the movie is one that you might want to watch more than once) for the many things that it manages to get incredibly right.
Intruders looks excellent in this AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen transfer from Millennium Entertainment. Framed at 2.35.1 widescreen, which we can safely assume is its intended aspect ratio, there are times where the image appears to be soft for aesthetic reasons and the film makes use of a rather grim color palette but detail is generally very strong even in the darker moments as is texture. Colors are reproduced quite naturally and black levels are deep and strong. There are no issues with print damage, dirt or debris to note and shadow detail is impressive throughout, which is quite important when you take into account how much of the movie takes place in darker settings.
English language audio options are provided in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles available in English and Spanish. The TrueHD mix is a very good one, it's immersive and it makes smart use of the surround channels to heighten tension and enhance the mood but never at the cost of clarity of fidelity. The levels are properly balanced and bass response is strong and tight, anchoring the mix nicely and adding some welcome lower end to a few key scenes. Dialogue is always easy to understand, the score sounds great, and there are no issues with anything even remotely resembling hiss or distortion. Portions of the film that are spoken in Spanish feature automatic English subtitles.
The extras are the weakest aspect of this release but there are a couple of bits and pieces worth checking out starting with an eight minute featurette that allows the cast and crew to talk to the camera about their experiences working together on the picture. A twenty minute behind the scenes piece features some more cast and crew interviews and also shows off large stretches of fly on the wall style footage shot on the set during the production. Aside from that, the disc also includes a few trailers for Millennium Entertainment titles, menus and chapter stops. The extras are presented in standard definition.
Slick, stylish and eerie, Intruders is definitely worth a look for the horror fans out there, particularly those with an affinity for the ways in which the interactions of children and monsters can be effectively scary. Though it's not a film without a few flaws, most of the film it gets things right and while Millennium Entertainment's Blu-ray release is light on supplements, it looks and sounds very good and is quite easy to recommend.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.